Review by Jeff Maki
Though just recently released on March 9, 2018, I’ve had Ministry’s “AmeriKKKant” on the imaginary shelf for some time. Why? The only logical reason I can think of is that in a close-minded way, I prefer to remember Ministry at its peak during the 1989-1996 period when the classic albums “The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste,” “Psalm 69” and “Filth Pig” were released.
Some strong albums have been releasedsince then (2004’s “Houses of the Mole” comes to mind,) but a well-schooled fan would tell you these releases haven’t lived up to the classic Ministry recordings. “AmeriKKKant” is Ministry’s 14th album and first without guitarist Mike Scaccia since “The Last Sucker” (2007); Scaccia died in 2012 but appeared posthumously on “From Beer to Eternity.”
So let’s start with the good: Al Jourgensen has waged war with our current president. He once said he writes his best albums when a Republican is in office. And President Trump is sampled heavily throughout the album, with Al mocking and distorting his signature slogan, “Make America Great Again.” So regardless of your political stance, this gives Uncle Al a plethora of material and speeches to pull from, also making this the maybe most-sample-heavy album in Ministry’s discography.
Standout tracks include the eight-minute-plus “Twilight Zone,” which packs in just about everything 2018 Ministry has to offer over a hypnotic “Scarecrow” beat.
“We’re Tired of It” reminds me of Type O Negative’s “Kill All the White People,” an out-of-place, violent, pit-inducing fit of rage lasting an exhausting—but totally worth it—2:48.
Then there’s “Victims of a Clown,” with a beat is reminiscent of “Thieves” but pegged down and morphed into an EDM beat. The chorus picks up the pace and comprises a sample, something about “We the people .. let us all unite!” but it works well. This is maybe my second favorite track here.
“Wargasm” is pure industrial punk with an ear worm of a chorus unlike anything Ministry has ever done.
So now the bad: Uncle Al’s war against the alt-right and Trump already feels a little tired—in fact, the 2016 election already feels pretty tired, so how tired will this album feel 10 years from now? Ministry’s Bush-era albums actually have held up quite well, so only time will tell.
There’s an excessive use of turntables on “AmeriKKant”—yes, you read that correctly. Either Al knows something we don’t know, or maybe old-school rap, DJs and turntables are about to make a comeback. They’re featured on no less than half of the songs on this album. Then again, Al always has been ahead of the times. He apparently watches CNN, but does he not keep up on modern music?
As stated above, this album is sample heavy. That wouldn’t be a huge problem, except in this case, I feel like we have heard many, if not all of these before. In this day and age, I can watch the news and hear these things on a daily basis. I’m not sure I need it driven into my head throughout the entirety of an album. He did once have the moniker of “Alien” Jourgensen, so maybe he is trying to use his music as a mind probe and brainwash us? The sampling worked on albums like “Psalm 69,” because at the time, it was pre-internet and many homes were only just on the verge of cable television and 24/7 news networks—obviously, times have changed. For example: It’s hard to believe, but I didn’t realize at the time that it was George Bush’s “taxes speech” sampled in “N.W.O.”
I’m never not going to unwelcome a new Ministry album, as Uncle Al has more than cemented his legacy as the godfather of industrial metal. And musically, this album isn’t what I was expecting—it’s half synths and beats, the other frantic industrial metal. It’s the content that I wasn’t fully expecting, and it brings it down a couple notches.
Nuclear Blast Records, March 9, 2018